Here are quick links to some family favourites in Ards and North Down to help you plan day trips and short breaks to remember.

Connect with Nature

The Ark Open Farm, Conlig
This lovely family run attraction, located between Bangor and Newtownards, is a great way to spend the day with the little ones. The kids will love getting up close to goats, bunnies, donkeys, pigs and more. There's even a reptile house. Over the last few years the farm have extended to include Jurassic Ark, perfect for all the little dino lovers and have further expanded to include a Fairytale forest, the farm boasts a number of play parks within the grounds. There is an on site cafe and plenty of picnic spots too.
Find out more 
Ark Open Farm, Conlig

Exploris Aquarium, Portaferry
Northern Ireland's only aquarium is in the picturesque village of Portaferry which is located on the shores of Strangford Lough.

Visit the penguins, new residents to the aquarium, find the crocodile, spot the sharks swimming around the pirate ship and so much more. The aquarium also boasts The Kraken restuarant and a soft play area. Why not book into their Night at the Aquarium? Find out more
Little girl watches the penguins swimming at Exploris Aquarium, Portaferry

WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre, Comber
We are so lucky to have this hub of nature within our borough! This #ANDSustainableGiant, part of our Green Tourism Network of providers who are leading the way in sustainable tourism, has hides and nature walks allowing you to get close to the wild birds and collection of endangered birds from around the world.
The Visitor Centre boasts the Loughshore Café, selling delicious home baked treats, and a well stocked gift shop with a selection of gifts, books and bird themed items. A picnic area, an indoor soft play area and Wildwood – The Natural Outdoor Woodland play area also adds to the experience, making this a great spot to fill a day out with the kids. Find out more

National Trust Mount Stewart, Newtownards
Explore the many trails of the mature landscapes of Mount Stewart, whether it's taking in the natural outdoor playground, to find the squirrel hide, or perhaps to simply take a stroll around the lake - spot the swans and their young, ducks and other bird life that fill the air with their song. Kids can climb trees, bug hunt, run around... take a picnic or enjoy a treat or two from the cafe. Find out more

Seaside fun

Pickie Funpark, Bangor
What fun to be had at Pickie! From Giant pedal boat Swans to the splash pad, the Pickie Puffer, the free playground, Adventure Golf and so much more. Located just a short stroll along the promenade around the marina at the seafront. Find out more
Sign of various activities to do at Pickie Funpark Bangor

Kingland Pitch and Putt
Fancy some friendly competition? Have a go at the Pitch and Putt located at Kingsland in Ballyholme beside the tennis courts. Open seasonally, 1 July - 31 August 2022. Find out more

For the sports active

Eddie Irvine Sports, Bangor
Located on the outskirts of Bangor, this hub of sport offers young ones, and those young at heart, the opportunity to let loose, try something new, and have loads of fun.
Race around an indoor karting track designed by Formula One superstar Eddie Irvine, have a go at Paintball, Laser Combat, one of the 20 room2race racing simulators, enjoy football on one of the 6 indoor 3G football pitches and then there are the size snooker tables and pool. Find out more
Go Karting at Eddie Irivine Sports in Bangor

Thunder Park, Bangor
An action sports facility located within Eddie Irvine Sports. This indoor park has been meticulously designed for fun, beginner training, and with progression in mind. It’s run by an elite of local action sports professionals and features Ireland’s only RESI-Ramp along with a training foam Pit, 60ft width of half-pipe and a jump box area. The park also features lots of fun obstacles for beginners and first time visitors. There’s something for all levels of ability. Find out more

Elite Centre Bangor
Have a go at Archery. Find out more

Bangor Aurora Aquatic and Leisure Complex
Featuring 3 swimming pools, leisure waters and extensive gym facilities the Aurora offers a great family fun day out. Note that having been closed a time due to construction works following a bad strorm, the Leisure Waters are re-opening on 1 August - book the Leisure Waters. Plus, there is the Aqua Challenge on water and soft play for the little ones - Find out more

Ards Blair Mayne Leisure and Well Being Centre, Newtownards
This leisure complex offers so much for kids of all ages, from Blacklight Adventure Golf (open Saturdays and Sundays, see website for times), to swimming, splash pool for under 7's, soft play, classes and an outdoor playground. Find out more
Blacklight Adventure at Ards Blair Mayne Leisure Centre

Soft play

Airtastic, Bangor
The kids are sure to burn off some energy in this large Inflata-Park, with soft play for the youngest ones. Find out more

Happy Town, Newtownards
A large, fun and bright soft play area for little ones. Find out more

Get creative

Eden Pottery, Millisle
Paint your own pottery piece. Eden Pottery makes colourful sponge printed pottery by hand. You can come along and create your own masterpiece in the studio. Decorating pottery is fun and easy in our Paint Your Own studio, we make hundreds of sponge patterns to suit everyone including birds, flowers, animals, tractors and cars; we introduce new shapes regularly making each visit different. The studio also houses a cafe serving delicious homemade treats. Why not hire a Decorating Box to your home? Find out more

Loaf Pottery, Crawfordsburn
Paint your own pottery piece. Check out their events page for summer offers, special packages and events. Find out more

Something a little different

Ballycopeland Windmill and Visitor Centre (newly opened in June 2022)
After a recent renovation, Ballycopeland Windmill the only remaining working windmill in East Down, reopened to boast a fantastic new family-friendly Heritage Visitor Attraction and cafe. Keep up to date on their Facebook page or find out more here.
Ballycopeland Windmill, Millisle

Drumawhey Miniature Railway
Enjoy a fun trip to Drumawhey Junction Railway, Ireland’s longest 7 1/4 inch railway, and experience the atmosphere of a full size traditional railway. Leave the station and ride around a scenic and varied track which crosses bridges, dives into tunnels and winds itself around mature grounds as it crosses itself, a level crossing and a stream with surprises around every corner. Watch out for the signal box engine sheds embankments and cuttings. It’s a great adventure for all ages. Find out more

Ulster Folk Museum and Ulster Transport Museum
For your little fans of all things transport - planes, trains, automobiles and boats - make a day of it at the UlsterTransport Museum in Cultra, just a short stroll from the train station and easily accessible by road. See the DeLorean from'Back the Future' and learn of the history of the Belfast made Titanic. Just across the bridge is the Ulster Folk Museum, where you will be transported in time to how people in Ireland used to live. Explore the old village, discover nooks and crannies in replica old cottages and spot farmyard animals along the way. A great day can be spent in either, or both, museums in one day! Find out more - Transport | Folk

These are just a few ideas, check out our Things to Do section to plan more fun-filled days in Ards and North Down.

Be sure to always check opening times of the attraction you plan to visit before travelling.

Also looking for some inspiration for walks, bike rides and free things to do? Check out more articles in our blog section